DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
TRACE observatory and solar coronal loops, computer artwork. TRACE (Transition Region and Coronal Explorer) is a space observatory launched in 1998 to study the Sun at ultraviolet wavelengths. These coronal loops were observed by TRACE following a solar flare event in November 2000. The loops comprise electrically charged gases (plasma) at millions of degrees Celsius, thousands of times hotter than the Sun's surface. Gas is heated as it is ejected from the surface and follows the path of magnetic field lines before crashing back down on the Sun's surface at over 100 kilometres per second.
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